The Design Manufacturing Futures lab at University of Bristol took the PhysiCAD project to Newcastle this weekend to showcase our work. We were a crowd favourite with about 500 people visiting our stand over the two days at the Centre for Life.

I made a slight modification to our ‘big rig’ for the younger audience at Maker Faire turning it into a “Beat the Joker” LEGO bridge building game. Teams had to construct a LEGO bridge in 8 minutes so Batman could get across a river and stop the Joker from robbing a bank. Once a team had finished building their bridge they could enter some basic dimensions and information about it into the PhysiCAD system to determine if Batman had succeeded. Build your bridge too narrow? Batman can’t get across! Build your bridge too low? The ship will crash into it and sink! People of all ages loved having a go working together to build LEGO bridges and we took the opportunity to tell them more about the PhysiCAD project and our ambition to make digital design more physical.

David demonstrated a version of the InstructiBlocks system getting people to build simple LEGO spaceships by following instructions embedded in individual bricks using RFIDs. The system runs entirely on a Raspberry Pi and using the PiCamera people using it can take pictures of their model without having to leave the program. Lots of people were really enthusiastic about the system and we were able to capture a lot of really useful data that we can use to improve the system for our upcoming study on how design rules affect design variation.

Big thanks to the Newcastle Maker Faire crew (and the city of Newcastle!) for hosting such an awesome event. The PhysiCAD team had a great time and can’t wait to go back again.